The adventurers decided to leave Elzalath outside the village to scout and to avoid unpleasant introductions. Corvus and Peke made their way to the city gate where they were greeted with nocked arrows and barked interrogatives. However, Clan Rooster accepted them quickly when they discovered the heroes made it through the forest at night. They were introduced to the leader Shizue, who was keenly interested in how they overcame the wights in the forest.
Peke managed to dodge Shizue’s questions, not intent to give away Elzalath’s presence unless absolutely necessary. Shizue was very straightforward, revealing the tale that led to Endo’s assassination. A Clan Crane Ambassador kidnapped, raped and killed Shizue’s daughter, Shia, heiress and rightful Emperess-in-Waiting of Clan Rooster. The violent and tragic circumstances of her death manifested her spirit as a malevolent Yokai. She haunted the village of Clan Crane, enacting her vengeance by harnessing the power available through the rift. Additionally, the wights of the forest were fueled by her unrest. She killed Endo as vengeance.
Meanwhile, Elzalath explored the surrounding region. She discovered an emergency exit from the city perhaps used to evacuate certain members of Clan Rooster in times of crisis. On her return to the front of the city, she spotted a wight flitting through the trees. Elzalath snuck up on the spirit and harnessed the Edict of Nhalgos to bind it. Through interrogation, Elzalath learned that this phantasm was subject to a greater will than her own intent on bringing destruction.
The team reunited and rested within the confines of Clan Rooster. In the morning, they made their way uneventfully back to Clan Crane. Upon entering the compound, it was immediately apparent something significant had transpired in their absence. The once bustling village was empty and silent. The troupe noticed oddities emanating from the Elder Temple in the center portion of the compound, so they made their way there.
At the entrance, the door was hanging from its hinges, and Elzalath could sense the presence of an intense aether trap. In an attempt to be cautious, Peke summoned a dryad to enter the temple first. The dryad walked in unimpeded. Then Peke attempted to conjure countermeasures to disarm the trap but failed. Corvus asked if his mysterious spikey cypher could be of any use. Peke’s patience had run out, so he took the enigmatic device, yanked on each spike, and tossed it into the temple. A horrific bang shook the temple as all magic embedded in the device was ripped away. The blast knocked Peke back 10 meters. Peke shook off the pain, as Elzalath noticed the dissipation of the force behind the trap she sensed earlier. The group headed into the Elder Temple.
Inside, they found another empty room with a staircase. Peke sent the dryad up the staircase, but as soon as it touched the first step, the shrieking spirit of Shia came barreling down from above toward the dryad. Elzalath shouted at Shia that they could work together. Together, they agreed the best course would be to shut the rift and bring Shia to the Lich Lord to add to the ranks of his army. Unfortunately, Shia was bound to the Temple until they resolved the rift problem.
Upon learning where Shinzo Abe was hiding out, the adventurers headed to confront him. They found a morose Abe sitting at the center of the room in a large cloak. Through questioning, they discovered Abe literally had the rift in a device in his pocket. Unfortunately, he had a score to settle. He shed his cloak, unsheathed his sword, and engaged the trio with the exceeding grace and precision of a lifelong warrior. Corvus sprang to action first, swinging his trusty blades at Abe, but Abe effortlessly dodged his way around the blows. He sliced through the remaining meat on Elzalath’s forearm. But Elzalath savored her opportunity to engage Abe in combat and blasted him with a Withering Curse. She could feel the life force slowly draining from Abe and empowering her. She held her arm out for him to see as her wounds healed themselves.
Peke transformed into a hawk to fly out of range and retrieve the rift. K’ot snarled at Abe to distract him from Peke. Her snarl worked too well, however, as Abe’s blades dug into her flesh. Meanwhile, Corvus snuck over to the cloak, quickly retrieved the rift device, and popped it open to unleash a portal spewing tainted aether.
When Peke saw his dearest friend suffering at the hands of Abe, his fight left him. He dove toward the portal and placed one foot on either side, ready to jump in.
“Elzalath, enough! We have to go! This fight is beneath you. All that remains for us on this plane is suffering and death.”
Elzalath stood firm. “What about Shia? This wasn’t the plan.”
Peke replied, “This isn’t what we hoped it would be. It’s too late. We need to go.”
Will Elzalath forsake her quest for power in exchange for survival? Will Peke abandon one of his closest friends? Do fucking major and minor effects apply on goddamn defense rolls? Tune in next time to find out!